Mkhululi Magqabi is a Big Issue vendor who’s big on self-empowerment. Apart from selling the magazine, he also produces his own non-electric portable slow-cooking bags. Mkhululi handstiches all of his bags and sells them from his pitch in Observatory to supplement his income.
Threads of generosity
Mkhululi’s years of hard work and building relationships with his customers has finally paid off. His days of handstitching his cooking bags are over after one of his loyal customers recently surprised the vendor with his very own sewing machine.
“I drive past Mkhululi at his pitch when travelling to work and back. Seeing him sew the bags with great care and attention [to detail] made me want to buy him a huge old factory or office building and make him the managing director of a sewing factory that would only employ homeless, marginalised and unemployed people in Cape Town,” explains Suna, Mkhululi’s benefactor.
Tears of joy
Suna has been a Big Issue reader since the publication’s early days and has always been impressed by Mkhululi’s conduct.
“His service is excellent and he has a gentle way of talking to people. His bags are brilliant and, with help, they could be sold commercially. I love the colours and material.
“I will always cherish the memory of handing him the sewing machine. We both cried, and he said ‘these are tears of joy’. I received the machine from one of my cousins who was touched when I told her about Mkhululi’s creativity – she has a giving heart,” adds Suna.